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Newton’s first law of motion: a body at rest remains at rest unless acted upon by a force, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by a force.

If you’re a science geek you will recognize this from physics as inertia. If instead you’re a philosophy geek you will agree that metaphysical inertia is basically no different. Metaphysically speaking, in pursuit of our goals, we tend to stay at rest or tend to stay in motion. In this, inertia is both our greatest enemy and our greatest ally.

As an enemy, when we are at rest, we tend to stay at rest, and is the reason why nothing happens. It’s the part of us that procrastinates, rationalizes, and continues to stay stuck in the same place. Day. After. Day. After. Day. After. Day. Without something to spark us into motion, this “body at rest” will forever remain at rest.

Here’s the good news. The rest of Newton’s first law of motion is that a body in motion will stay in motion. This means is that there doesn’t need to be a huge, grand, magical, explosion of motivation to get out of the “at rest” position. Just a small nudge will do. A little bit of motion will continue in motion.

What this means, is that ANY motion (no matter how miniscule) is more powerful than sitting around doing nothing waiting for a big burst of motion to happen.

For example, when I had the goal to run my first road race, I definitely knew that I needed to get to the gym almost every day for some sort of training. Initially, going to the gym seemed too hard, too overwhelming, too…something…enough that I simply put off going. And put off going. And put off going some more. One day I asked myself what is the smallest movement that I will take? It turned out I was willing to put on my running shoes. So I did. Then I asked myself if there was another motion I could take? I was willing to go out to my car. So I did. Was there another motion I could take? I was willing to drive over to the gym. So I did. Was there another motion I could take? I was willing to go into the gym. So I did. And then was I willing to go into the locker room? Yes. Was I willing to go to the part of the gym that I needed to be in to workout? Yes. And as long as I was already there I might as well do my workout.

It’s been three years, and I generally workout six days a week. And almost every day I have to employ the “What is the smallest possible motion I am willing to take?”

Keep in mind, I do give myself permission to bail at any one of those points—I can put on my shoes, and then take them off and go back to bed, or I can drive to the gym, and drive home and go back to bed. In three years, I have bailed a few times, but the number is so small I can count it on one hand. That’s right the smallest possible motion, has yielded more forward motion than the sitting around waiting for the BIG spark of motivation ever did.

What’s your goal? And what’s the smallest possible motion you WILL do, right now, to achieve it?

A fly has gotten into the house. It has one goal, and that is to get back outside. I know this because it is exerting all of its efforts by banging itself repeatedly into the window. It can SEE its goal (insomuch as I understand how a fly sees the world). The goal, the promised land, the sunshine and flowers, is RIGHT OVER THERE, live and in living color. If it just keeps trying, if it just keeps persevering, it should get through to the other side, no?

Of course, with my god-like perspective (relative to the fly’s experience, of course), I can see that the ACTUAL path to its goal is to back up, fly sideways and/or away from the goal and find a open door or window to the outside. If I’m feeling especially interactive in my god-state I will capture the fly and set it free myself, hoping the miracle of experiencing sudden freedom overrides whatever fly trauma I’ve caused by violating the prime-directive prohibiting human/insect interference.

Interference or not, this scene of “fly banging into window” always brings up one thought. Am I like that fly? Am I banging into some “window” trying to reach a goal that I can see, almost touch, almost taste, almost reach? Am I willing to have the courage to be counterintuitive and fly backwards or sideways? Am I open to inexplicable and scary, yet sudden attainment of said goal?

The past month has been one lesson after another in being like this fly. Specifically the part about forcing myself to practice “flying away from the window.” One dramatic thing after another has occurred, that has sent me backward and/or sideways in all areas of my life from the personal and professional to the emotional and physical. And while I am not a fan of chaos and drama, in general, I certainly don’t want to miss the opportunity to learn valuable lessons in backwardness and sidewayness, and what windows have sprung up keeping me from my goals.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
• The attempt to reach a goal while not being 100% honest with myself and the people around me, will (if I’m lucky) get me 90% of the way to what I want, but never all the way there. Unfortunately, 90% is close enough to see the prize, but painfully short hitting the mark. The only way to the goal is to back up, tell the truth, be clear, and head in a different direction toward the goal.
• There are always going to be people around who are banging into their own windows. As annoying as it is, and as painful as it is, it isn’t my job to fix that. They are going to have to their own journey in flying backwards and sideways. I get nowhere banging into their windows with them.
• Flying backwards and sideways is simply the notion that if I want something to be different, then I have to be different, make different choices, and do things differently than I have done up until this point. All the windows I have run into this last month have simply been a lesson in either choosing mediocrity (Kristi, keep banging into this window because it is familiar), or choosing amazing (Kristi, you’re going to have to fly in a direction that is out of your comfort zone to find the awesomeness you seek.)

Maybe I am a fly, in the grand scheme of things, but I definitely don’t want a mediocre life. I also have grown weary of banging my head into windows. I think it’s time to take flight in another direction, scary as it may be.

I’ll see all of you on the other side.

I Am My Own New Story

Speaking and workshop gigs. Coaching Clients. Fans and Followers. Books, books, and more books.  Oh yes, it was that time of year; time to look at my goals for 2013.  While assessing my goals, which, honestly, never seem to change that much from year to year, I decided to ask myself, “What’s the one thing I could do to create momentum around these goals?”  And then ask myself, “What’s stopping me from doing this one thing?”

The answer to the first question was obvious:  I could be more proactive in networking by creating and cultivating authentic relationships.

The answer to next question was actually even more obvious: I am horrible at networking.

Then I asked myself a question that I have trained myself to ask, but never before in this area of my life, “Can I be awesome at networking instead of horrible?”

My answer? “Umm…er…maybe? I guess… maybe not?”

I then had this sudden flashback to 13 years ago,  when I first moved to Portland, Oregon, and I had bought myself a plant to liven up the kitchen.  I am not sure what I was thinking, since I was a notorious serial killer of all things flora.  I had yet to successfully keep a plant alive longer than two weeks, and that included a hearty cactus that required almost nothing from me in area of survival.  However, here I was, faced with a plant in my kitchen, and more importantly faced with the question, “Did I want to be the person that kept killing my plants, or did I want to be a person who kept them alive?”  I wanted to be the later, and right then and there I adopted a new story for myself, which resulted in new behaviors, and even though there have been a few close calls that plant is still alive and thriving today.

As this flashback faded, I realized I could do the same thing with the story I had about being horrible at networking.  I could just decide to be awesome at it.  Now I’ve only been in my new story for two weeks, so it is unclear if I have attained that awesomeness I seek, however, in the last two weeks I have had nothing but a great time meeting new and wonderful people.  And those new and wonderful people are all putting themselves out there to achieve their own goals.  This in and of itself has been a huge boost of inspiration, and a great infusion of energy.  I truly look forward to continuing to live out my new story, and cannot wait to meet all amazing people are out there.

What story is stopping you from accomplishing your goals?  And can you adopt a new and immediate story that is more productive? Absolutely.  I have the plant to prove it…

$1.50

There I was, standing in front of the open freezer arguing with my mind.  And in this battle against myself I knew I was losing.

“I have an agreement to stick to a specific food plan that does not include ice cream.”

“BUT you really really really want ice cream.”

“I do but, I want to keep my agreements.”

“No you don’t.  Because if you did, you’d throw out this ice cream right now, and remove the temptation from your life.”

“I don’t want to do that.  Throwing it out would be a waste of money.”

“You’re right, and you wouldn’t want to be wasteful.”

“I’m being SO good and not wasteful!”

And consequently within fifteen minutes I’d scarfed down the ice cream, because I simply could not bring myself to throw it out.   Totally realizing all the while that I simply was justifying doing something I knew I shouldn’t be doing.

A few days later I found myself in almost identical argument.  And I could feel myself losing again.  The difference being this time, when I got to the part where I latched on to the rationalization of “but I don’t want to be wasteful,” I heard myself ask, “Your integrity isn’t worth throwing out $1.50 worth of ice cream? Really? Your integrity isn’t worth $1.50?”

That was it.  The magic moment, and the magic question.  One in which, I could no longer remain blind to my hallow rationalizations.  And into the garbage went the remainder of the ice cream.  My integrity is worth more to me than anything, and when presented with how I was really valuing (with an actual dollar amount) my integrity, my rationalizing mind could no longer have control over my choices.

And my new practice is over the past couple of weeks, when I feel myself wanting to bail on my plans and agreements (in any arena of my life) is to ask myself, “What is my integrity worth right now? Is this cost worth losing my integrity?”

Super Me

Last weekend I ran a 5K here in Portland called “Run Like Hell.”  RLH is a costumed themed road race, and takes place during a weekend in October that is reasonably close to Halloween.  Two years ago the theme was Alice in Wonderland, and the request was that the participants wear costumes inspired by the story. Last year the theme was Zombies. This year: Superheros. I was thrilled! Not only do I love the idea of superheros, but I really couldn’t wait to see a few thousand people running around downtown Portland donned in capes, tight, masks, and the fine accessories associated with the hero crowd.

A couple of weeks before the race I posed the question to my Facebook friends regarding how or who I should dress up as.  And a really curious thing happened.  All my Rotarian friends thought I should go as some sort of Rotary hero. My math friends thought I should go as a math hero.  My friends who knew I was an author thought I should go as a GO hero (GO is the name of my book.) And basically, whatever activities my friends knew me through became the basis for their suggestions.  Now, that isn’t the curious part.  The curious part, was my REACTION to their suggestions.  Every time a new suggestion popped up, I would hear my mind say, “I teach math, BUT I’m not that.” Or “I like Rotary, BUT that isn’t all that I am.”  And at every suggestion my reaction was some version of “I DO ________, but I AM not ________.”

To be frank, I went to bed that night a little disheartened.  Was I really only super because of my activities and hobbies?  Was I the sum total of my actions?  Is there nothing more to me than meets the eye? I feel asleep contemplating these questions when I had a dream.  And in the dream I was flying around (and I don’t often have flying dreams, so this was of some significance.)  I awoke from this dream with the thought, “It’s me.  I bring ME to what I DO.  And if I’m going to be a super something, I can only do my best to be a super me.”  And I knew in that moment, that my costume could not be about what I do.

The race has come and gone, but I’ve still got my costume sitting out.  I can’t quite say goodbye to a very interesting reflection of me.  So for the moment, I have a very visible reminder that we aren’t what we do.  We are who we are.  And that who we are is going to be unleashed upon everything we encounter.  It is my sincere hope for us all that it takes on the flavor of Superhero more often than not…

Awhile back there was a group of us working through the exercises in GO: Grounded Optimism, and I had some short videos for the participants.  I wanted to make sure that these were all archived in the same place, so people who wanted to go back and work on these exercises could access them a little bit more easily:

Whenever I start thinking about starting a new goal, one of the first places my mind goes is, “How am I ever going to do that? I don’t have the time!” One day I decided that this was silly. I have the same amount of time as everyone else on the planet, it is just how I choose to spend my time needed to be readjusted to fit in some new goals. I took a look at my day-to-day activities, and discovered that between time wasted due to disorganization, sitting in traffic, and other random activities that I neither cared about nor wished to be doing, I actually had four hours of extra time in my day! FOUR HOURS. With a little bit of attention to ensure that I could utilize this extra time, I was able to free up those four hours six days a week. That’s right, I had found 24 extra hours in my week. My seven day week, suddenly had an extra day embedded in it. An extra day a week results in 52 extra days a year. What would you do with 52 EXTRA DAYS?! Write the next great novel? Paint stunning pieces of artwork? Rebuild your dream car? Travel? Volunteer? Start a new business? Spend more time with your family? Workout? Read? Relax? The possibilities are endless.
Take a closer look at your life. Do you have projects that you could whittle away on while sitting at red traffic lights? Do you have activities in your life that eat up several hours a day, but are not really aligned with what you want out of life? Can you hire a housekeeping for a couple hours a week? Can you organize your life so you don’t spend a half-hour everyday looking for your keys? Can you share certain responsibilities with friends and family, so that all of you might find some extra time?
Reclaim your time, reclaim your life, and enjoy your eighth day of the week!

TGIT

That’s right, “Thank God It’s Tuesday!”

I don’t know about you, but for a very long time, this was the worst day of the week for me. I was no longer refreshed from the previous weekend. It was still too far away from the upcoming weekend.  It was the perfect storm of busy, exhausting, and no reprieve in sight.

Then I took the reigns. I realized that I had the ability to choose.  I could choose to make Tuesdays the days when I could work on my biggest and most exciting goals.  So I did.  I could also make choices around what to schedule on my Tuesdays. So I scheduled in free time, ot learning time, ot exercise time, or the things that actually make Tuesdays feel more like a Saturday.  I realized that even at my busiest, I could just choose to have a positive outlook. Now , no matter what, Tuesdays rock!

How about you? What are you going to do today to make your Tuesday awesome? Will you accomplish an amazing goal? Will you find a way to have the day be balanced and joyful? Will you just decide that today is going to be awesome no matter what? All of the above?

Whatever you decide, enjoy your Tuesday!

 

I woke up this morning to learn of the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, and am amazed by the growing list of people who passed away this summer who have left an indelible mark on our culture, popular and otherwise. From Ed McMahon, to Michael Jackson, Walter Cronkite, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, John Hughes…with every press release I feel a sense of sadness, as I lived in a world touched by their creations. Regardless of controversies, whether or not they had slipped into relative obscurity, or displayed human vulnerability and frailty, in the end, it is their contribution to the world that I will remember.

What does this have to do with goals, motivation, and optimism? Everything. The mere notion of a goal is to declare of a point of completion. And no matter how we slice it, we all arrive on the planet with a point of completion on the horizon. Between now and that point of completion, is an infinite supply of opportunity to create, contribute, and leave behind our own positive legacy. Every goal setting guru suggests some version of, “keep the end in mind.” And nothing is more “endish” than the moment we exit the planet. If we want to have a sense of the arc we would like our lives to take, then there is no better place to start than at the end.
To jump start this process we can ask ourselves the following questions:
What is one positive contribution I will leave behind if my life were to end right this second?
The good news is that you are reading, and I am writing, this next sentence, so we still have more life left to live. That being the case, what is one positive contribution that I can make today? This week? This year?
Let’s say we all get to live to a very ripe old age, full of vitality and vigor. What would I like my obituary and eulogies to reveal about my life?

Now, by all means, let us go forth and embrace this day, embrace this life, and leave behind our own indelible marks.

Welcome to my blog! This entry is going to be a rather short introduction to what kinds of topics to expect in future entries. The book, Grounded Optimism (GO): The Secret Formula for Creating Momentum, Finding the Meaning of Life, and Receiving Enlightenment from a Chocolate Chip Cookie, will be out later this year, and is all about achieving goals. This blog will definitely be diving into a variety of topics that are the foundation of the book– Creativity, Integrity, Enthusiasm, and Vision just to name a few. In addition to the topics in the book, this blog will be dedicated to any and all topics related to optimism, empowerment, and fully showing up in life. So here’s to the new beginning, and here’s to seeing all of you live out full, optimistic, and abundant lives!